Name of Hospital: The Meadows
City, State/Province, Country: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
Number of Stars: 4
Comment: I went to the Meadows for outpatient treatment. Most people go through the Meadows inpatient treatment, then transition to Outpatient. However, I opted just to do outpatient because I had had a horrible experience with inpatient elsewhere. The outpatient program was several hours per day several days per week. Overall, I would say it was a valuable (but pricey) experience that helped me get back on my feet.
Many of the people who go to the Meadows go for addiction, but I went for bipolar depression. I found this difficult at first, because I struggled to connect to other people’s experiences with substance abuse. The group therapy and the materials were heavily focused on addiction. I struggled to connect with this because I suffer from bipolar disorder, and have never struggled with substance abuse. Eventually, I found that many of the other patients in my program had underlying mental health struggles like PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder, and I was able to connect with them on that.
The program also requires that you attend 12 step meetings several times per week. While “Bipolar Bears” exists, I did not feel comfortable attending 12 step programs. After I tried a few out, I had to advocate for myself and negotiate other kinds of outside treatment to fulfill this requirement. The most profoundly impactful part of group, is when you bring in your family. You are allowed to bring in family members, if they are available, once each week.
After you have been in the program for a while, you can elect to do work with your family in front of the group. Essentially, your family gets homework to fill out, think about in advance. Then, in group, you sit looking them in the eyes, while they talk about why they love you, times they have enjoyed with you, how you have scared them, and how they have been negatively impacted by your disease. It was a frightening thing to do, but most people find it is a cathartic release that brings them closer to their family and opens a line of communication that can heal old wounds.
The Meadows combined several kinds of therapy for the program. We had several hours of group each day, where we would go over CBT lessons, personal inventories, or the things we each needed to process through. We did an hour of yoga/meditation each week. We did an hour of art therapy each week, where we were encouraged to explore our feelings and past experiences through art. We also went to an hour long group each week with program alumni, who talked about their struggles and successes after the program.
The Meadows also provides a few consultations with a psychiatrist, but I had my own outside of the IOP that I preferred. I had individual therapy each week, where you can do talk therapy, EMDR, or somatic experiencing. I liked my individual therapist. In addition to the core IOP, the Meadows offers a few other good opportunities to come in each week. I had two hour-long sessions of “Brain Paint” each week. Brain Paint is a type of neurofeedback where electrodes are pasted to your skull. If you have the chance to do Brain Paint, do. I walked out of my first session feeling a tranquility, peace, and most importantly, silence in my brain that I had never experienced before. It was profound and incredible. Unfortunately, Brain Paint is not a commonly used program and is expensive to seek on my own outside of this program. The Meadows also offered the opportunity for patients to sign up for additional yoga, hikes, and acupuncture each week.
I struggled with how Christian the experience was. I don’t think the program was supposed to be Christian, but the therapist who led our group brought up Christianity, God, and faith every day, sometimes going on 20 or 30 minute tangents about religion. While religion is very powerful for some people, I was frustrated because Jim told me that I would get better, I would not recover from my depression, if I did not find a higher power and connect with a faith.
As a person of a more abstract, non-denominational faith, I found his focus on Christianity and religion at all to be inappropriate. I was offended that he believed I needed to adopt religious faith to be healthy. He often said “Let go and let God,” and told us we had no control over our lives, just God did. He spoke as if we could cop out of responsibility because it was all God’s plan. He also spent a lot of time talking about how great he thought he was. The man has a strong personality and is not great when you want to challenge his ideas/perspective.
Overall, I found the Meadows to be a good experience, and I believed it helped get me back on a positive path.
Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Intensive outpatient program
Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: white, cis woman, bisexual, bipolar